Saturday, 20 August 2016

Packing tips for the Journey into the Himalayas Yatra 2016

Hemkund Sahib (photo credit)
In five days, I'll be taking the flight out to Delhi, India and proceed up north to Haridwar to begin the sacred journey into the Himalayas with Yogi Amandeep. The trip is a yogis path traveling to deep esoteric scared sites for a total of  twelve days.  The first three days will be in Haridwar (314 m or 1,031 ft elevation) to visit shrines dedicated to Baba Sri Chand and Guru Nanak and to celebrate the birthday of Yogi Bhajan with a lineage holder of Kundalini Yoga.

From Haridwar,  we will be driving for a total of 11 hours visiting Rishikesh, Shankracharya along the way to Gobindghat (1,828 m or 5,997 ft elevation).  From there begins the trek on foot to Gobindham (3049m elevation) or what is called Dev Bumi, the realm of beings of lights. where we will be setting up camp.

The final destination  is Hemkund Sahib (4632 m or 15,192 ft), described as "the spiritual nerve of Mother Earth,  the source of all life on the planet that sustains the balance of the polarities and the electromagnetic field of the earth." Where the nerve ends is the 10th gate of mother earth, an energy vortex center.  The glacier lake is a healing lake that has the power to heal on many levels. The site is surrounded by seven snow-clad mountain peaks named after the seven primal sages known as Sapta Rishi. It is said that the first yogi science was transmitted to them on these peaks by the deity Shiva himself.

There will be a lot of trekking, yoga and meditating on this trip. The weather report says that Haridwar will be warm at 24-degrees centigrade, Gobindham at 12-degrees Centigrade and Hemkund Sahib at 3-degrees Centigrade; and to expect definitely some rain. We were advised not to bring cotton garments. Apparently cotton kills, when it gets wet or damp, it could cause hypothermia.

So, here's my packing list:
Himalaya Checklist (photo credit)

- Footwear. I have my Salomon X-ultra GTX gortex mid-cut hiking shoes with sturdy soles. Wool socks. Vaseline since I don't have wool liners to keep my feet from getting blisters. Slippers and extra pair of walking shoes.

- Layering. This recommendation is from Dr. Peter Rivera , an avid ultra distance runner and mountaineer, who I initially consulted for altitude medical sickness (AMS). He said to start with a good base layer which can either be from polypropylene, capilene or smart wool. He said that the secret to keeping warm is for "the base layer to fit like a second skin". He warned that I will sweat even when the environment is cold so breathable fabric should be used. The next layer is a technical shirt (dri-fit) that hugs the body to keep the warmth in. The third layer is a soft shell jacket which should contour the body. And lastly, a shell jacket and pants if it is too windy, snowing or raining.

- A wool or synthetic beanie and a UV baseball cap.

- Two pairs of gloves, a fleece and waterproof gloves.

- Shawl, scarf and a neck gaiter.

- Flashlight and head lamp and extra batteries.

- Water bottle and hot thermos for yogi tea (I'm crossing my fingers that the camp will serve this).

- Yoga mat and sheepskin for the daily kundalini yoga and meditation.

-  First Aid kit: antiseptic, wipes, bacterial ointment, anti-allergy meds, cetamid (acetazolamide for altitude sickness), antibiotics, ibuprofen, kinesio tape.

- Others: climbing pole, sunglasses, trail food, glucose, hand sanitizer, toilet paper. :-)

Altitude sickness is life threatening. I did experience altitude sickness in June at the Summer Solstice Kundalini Yoga festival in Guru Ram Das Puri, New Mexico at an altitude of 7,000-feet.  The symptoms are: headaches, difficulty breathing, cold extremities, dizziness, disorientation and vomiting.  I experienced all except the vomiting. The organizer was quite strict saying that if anyone exhibited symptoms of altitude sickness, the treatment would be to head down to lower altitude, like Espanola or Albuquerque, where more oxygen is available and the symptoms may be alleviated in a shorter time.

According to Yogi Amandeep, the mountains in the Himalayas are some of the few surviving mountains that are still living and can be used for meditation. He said "the history of ancient India states that whenever the hunger for truth is sparked within an individual, he/she will take the path that leads to the Himalayas." I am grateful to be given this opportunity to join the Yatra and meditate in the Himalayas in my lifetime. I pray that I seek the truth within, and come back transformed and transcended during this 12-day journey.